We recently obtained approval of the I-601 “Extreme Hardship” Waiver and K-1 Fiancée Visa for a client from Africa found inadmissible for having attempted to procure an immigration benefit in the United States by fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact under INA Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i).
The K-1 fiancée was previously married to a spouse who had won the diversity visa lottery. She attempted to obtain U.S. permanent residence together with her spouse, but was unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the consular officer that their marriage was genuine. Due to irregularities that occurred during this process, she was charged with fraud/misrepresentation and became banned for life from the U.S.
Section 212(a)(6)(C) of the Act provides, in pertinent part:
(i) Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure(or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this Act is inadmissible.
The K-1 fiancée subsequently rekindled a friendship with a U.S. citizen who is a member of the U.S. Navy. They fell in love with one another and contacted my office to help represent them throughout the K-1 Fiancée Visa process.
I first provided the couple with a detailed letter going over the K-1 Fiancée Visa process from start to finish. This “start-up package” included client questionnaires and a checklist of supporting documents to gather and forward to my office.
After the initial USCIS petition was expeditiously prepared and filed by my office on behalf of our clients, I provided the couple with another detailed letter going over preparation guidelines and tips for the K-1 visa interview.
To prepare for the fraud/misrepresentation charge that we expected to be levied against the K-1 fiancée visa at her consular interview, I began preparation of the I-601 waiver package while the K-1 visa petition was still processing. This allowed my clients to save time by having the I-601 “extreme hardship” waiver ready to submit as soon as the consular interview was complete.
Section 212(i) of the Act provides that:
The Attorney General [now the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary)] may, in the discretion of the Attorney General [Secretary], waive the application of clause (i) of subsection (a)(6)(C) in the case of an alien who is the spouse, son or daughter of a United States citizen or of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, if it is established to the satisfaction of the Attorney General [Secretary] that the refusal of admission to the United States of such immigrant alien would result in extreme hardship to the citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent of such an alien.
A waiver of inadmissibility under section 212(i) of the Act is dependent on a showing that the bar to admission imposes extreme hardship on a qualifying relative, which includes the U.S. citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent of the applicant. The applicant’s spouse is the only qualifying relative in this case. If extreme hardship to a qualifying relative is established, the applicant is statutorily eligible for a waiver, and USCIS then assesses whether a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted. See Matter of Mendez-Moralez, 21 I&N Dec. 296, 301 (BIA 1996).
Extreme hardship is “not a definable term of fixed and inflexible content or meaning,” but “necessarily depends upon the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.” Matter of Hwang, 10 I&N Dec. 448, 451 (BIA 1964). In Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, the Board provided a list of factors it deemed relevant in determining whether an alien has established extreme hardship to a qualifying relative. 22 I&N Dec. 560, 565 (BIA 1999). The factors include the presence of a lawful permanent resident or United States citizen spouse or parent in this country; the qualifying relative’s family ties outside the United States; the conditions in the country or countries to which the qualifying relative would relocate and the extent of the qualifying relative’s ties in such countries; the financial impact of departure from this country; and significant conditions of health, particularly when tied to an unavailability of suitable medical care in the country to which the qualifying relative would relocate. Id. The Board added that not all of the foregoing factors need be analyzed in any given case and emphasized that the list of factors was not exclusive. Id . at 566.
The Board has also held that the common or typical results of removal and inadmissibility do not constitute extreme hardship, and has listed certain individual hardship factors considered common rather than extreme. These factors include: economic disadvantage, loss of current employment, inability to maintain one’s present standard of living, inability to pursue a chosen profession, separation from family members, severing community ties, cultural readjustment after living in the United States for many years, cultural adjustment of qualifying relatives who have never lived outside the United States, inferior economic and educational opportunities in the foreign country, or inferior medical facilities in the foreign country. See generally Matter of Cervantes-Gonzalez, 22 I&N Dec. at 568; Matter of Pilch, 21 I&N Dec. 627, 632-33 (BIA 1996); Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. 880, 883 (BIA 1994);Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. 245, 246-47 (Comm’r 1984); Matter of Kim, 15 I&N Dec. 88, 89-90 (BIA 1974); Matter of Shaughnessy, 12 I&N Dec. 810, 813 (BIA 1968).
However, though hardships may not be extreme when considered abstractly or individually, the Board has made it clear that “[r]elevant factors, though not extreme in themselves, must be considered in the aggregate in determining whether extreme hardship exists.” Matter of 0-J-0-, 21 I&N Dec. 381, 383 (BIA 1996) (quoting Matter of Ige, 20 I&N Dec. at 882). The adjudicator “must consider the entire range of factors concerning hardship in their totality and determine whether the combination of hardships takes the case beyond those hardships ordinarily associated with deportation.” Id.
The actual hardship associated with an abstract hardship factor such as family separation, economic disadvantage, cultural readjustment, et cetera, differs in nature and severity depending on the unique circumstances of each case, as does the cumulative hardship a qualifying relative experiences as a result of aggregated individual hardships. See, e.g.,Matter of Bing Chih Kao and Mei Tsui Lin, 23 I&N Dec. 45, 51 (BIA 2001) (distinguishing Matter of Pilch regarding hardship faced by qualifying relatives on the basis of variations in the length of residence in the United States and the ability to speak the language of the country to which they would relocate).
For example, though family separation has been found to be a common result of inadmissibility or removal, separation from family living in the United States can also be the most important single hardship factor in considering hardship in the aggregate. Salcido-Salcido v. INS, 138 F.3d 1292, 1293 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting Contreras-Buenfil v. INS, 712 F.2d 401, 403 (9th Cir. 1983)); but see Matter of Ngai, 19 I&N Dec. at 24 7 (separation of spouse and children from applicant not extreme hardship due to conflicting evidence in the record and because applicant and spouse had been voluntarily separated from one another for 28 years).
Therefore, the AAO considers the totality of the circumstances in determining whether denial of admission would result in extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.
The favorable factors we presented and proved in this case to obtain approval of the I-601 Waiver includes the following:
- The U.S. citizen fiancé is solely responsible for the day-to-day care and financial support of his mother, who suffered severe brain damage and relies upon her son for the necessities of life
- The U.S. citizen fiancé lives with his mother and his younger brother. Due to his mother’s incapacity, the U.S. citizen fiancé is now responsible for providing food, housing, clothing, and emotional support to his younger brother as well.
- The U.S. citizen fiancé does not earn enough through his work with the U.S. Navy to meet the expenses involved in caring for himself, his incapacitated mother, and his younger brother. He is falling deeper into debt. He needs his fiancée in the U.S. and working to provide a second income that will help meet the financial needs of this tight-knit family.
- The U.S. citizen fiancé is at high risk of psychological decompensation due to the tremendous stress of caring for his disabled parent and younger brother. He also faces deployment abroad in 2016 with the U.S. Navy. This is putting extraordinary pressure on him as he needs his fiancée in the United States as soon as possible to help him psychologically cope and to assist in the care for his disabled mother and young brother. His fiancée’s presence in the U.S. and her day-to-day assistance will be especially vital during his deployment abroad with the U.S. Navy.
As a result of our efforts, our client was approved for the I-601 Waiver and K-1 Fiancée Visa. She can now enter the United States, marry her U.S. citizen fiancée, and subsequently apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States.